Service Mesh Manager is a multi and hybrid-cloud enabled service mesh platform for constructing modern applications. Built on Kubernetes and our Istio distribution, Service Mesh Manager enables flexibility, portability and consistency across on-premise datacenters and cloud environments.

Service Mesh Manager helps you to confidently scale your microservices over single- and multi-cluster environments and to make daily operational routines standardized and more efficient. The componentization and scaling of modern applications inevitably leads to a number of optimization and management issues:

  • How do you spot bottlenecks? Are all components functioning correctly?
  • How are connections between components secured?
  • How does one reliably upgrade service components?

Service Mesh Manager helps you accomplish these tasks and many others in a simple and scalable way, by leveraging the Istio service mesh and building many automations around it. Our tag-line for the product captures this succinctly:

Service Mesh Manager operationalizes the service mesh to bring deep observability, convenient management, and policy-based security to modern container-based applications.

Key features

Service Mesh Manager takes the pain out of Istio by offering great UX from installation and mesh management to runtime diagnostics and more.

Istio distribution

Service Mesh Manager is built on Istio, but offers enhanced functionality, for example, operator-based Istio management, a full-featured CLI tool, and an intuitive and easy to use UI. It is not a new abstraction layer on top of Istio, and stays fully compatible with the upstream. Service Mesh Manager is designed for enterprise users and comes with commercial support.

For a detailed list of changes compared to upstream Istio, see Istio distribution.


The Service Mesh Manager UI gives you insight into the operation of your services. It not only shows the service topology with real-time and historical metrics, but also allows you to drill-down and analyze the metrics in context. Service Mesh Manager automatically calculates the health of your services and workloads based on the available metrics. If you still need additional details, you can access the related Grafana dashboards with a single click.

You can also monitor communications with services that are external to your mesh.

Root cause diagnostics

Root cause diagnostics help you efficiently isolate and solve operational issues related to your services. Service Mesh Manager offers:


You can manage Istio through the Service Mesh Manager UI and the CLI. Service Mesh Manager gives you easy access to the configuration of the Istio service mesh and its underlying traffic-management features, including:

With Service Mesh Manager, you can manage service-updates using automated, industry-standard upgrade strategies, like canary releases.


With Service Mesh Manager, you can monitor and manage your hybrid multi-cloud service infrastructure from a single pane of glass. You can easily attach and detach clusters using the CLI, and take advantage of enhanced multi-cluster telemetry.

Service Mesh Manager supports multiple mesh topologies, so you can use the one that best fits for your use-cases. In multi-cluster configurations it provides automatic locality load-balancing.

Service Level Objectives and burn-rate alerts

Service Mesh Manager helps SREs and operation engineers to observe and control the health of their services and applications. You can create and track service level objectives and corresponding alerting rules on the Service Mesh Manager dashboard.

Security & Compliance

Service Mesh Manager helps you secure your services through industry-standard authorization and authentication practices, including:

High-level architecture

Service Mesh Manager consists of the following components:

Service Mesh Manager architecture overview

  • Service mesh management: The open source Cisco Istio operator helps to install/upgrade/manage Istio deployments. Its unique features include managing multiple ingress/egress gateways in a declarative fashion, and automated and fine-tuned multi-cluster management.

  • The core components of Service Mesh Manager are:

    • the Service Mesh Manager backend (exposing a GraphQL API)
    • the Service Mesh Manager UI, a web interface
    • the Service Mesh Manager CLI
    • the Service Mesh Manager operator

    Service Mesh Manager’s soul is its backend, which exposes a GraphQL API. The Service Mesh Manager UI (dashboard) and CLI interact with this API. The Service Mesh Manager operator is an optional component which helps with a declarative installation method to support GitOps workflows.

  • External out-of-the-box integrations:

    These components are automatically installed and configured by Service Mesh Manager by default to be able to work with Istio. You can also integrate Service Mesh Manager with your own Prometheus, Grafana, Jaeger, or Cert manager - Service Mesh Manager follow the batteries included but replaceable paradigm.

Istio-operator and Service Mesh Manager

The Calisti team actively maintains its fully upstream-compatible Istio distribution and several open-source projects and integrations that serve as the basis for Cisco Service Mesh Manager. From the perspective of Istio management, the Calisti team maintains the following:

  • The Istio operator is an open source project, which is the core component involved in Istio control plane and gateway lifecycle management for Cisco Service Mesh Manager.
  • Cisco Service Mesh Manager is a commercial product that includes all the features mentioned in this guide, enterprise support, and optionally integration support for customer environments.

Read the detailed comparison.

Next steps